When I moved into Rolando, a multi-ethnic neighborhood of San Diego, many people said that I moved to the ghetto. I moved into a place where there were many people who were not white but the crime rate was no worse than North Park. The stores were the same, there was no more trash, there was nothing wrong. Some of my neighbors were waiters and some lawyers and some teachers, just like in other areas of San Diego. Schools were of course not great but not terrible and in general things were great, just one thing was there: segregation. My friends were buying into the racist idea that area with non-blacks is bad for no other reason than, there was no white people.
I thought of that as I listened to a This American Life story about segregation. It’s interesting because it is told from such a white perspective. They talk about Americans living in America as if they are aliens or from some other country and they are integrated with white people like some great thing when it should be normal. Encouraging on one side and depressing at the same time.
Encouraging because I’ve had friends ask me how to “call black people” because they’ve never met black people before and sad because this is still a fact of life. But better to face it and work on it than not work on it and ignore it.